Sims kicks off Doomtree Blowout Week, 12/4/11
For anyone else, seven nights in a row of one musical act would be over the top. When that act is the Doomtree crew, seven consecutive nights of the Twin Cities' talented collection of MCs brings nothing but giddiness and a sort of crazed enthusiasm from the fans that are the most loyal in town.
Kicking off the week last night was Sims, Doomtree's youngest star, coming down off a wild year of success (which began back in February with the release of his second full-length album, Bad Time Zoo). As in each of the solo Doomtree nights at the Entry, the curator brought in a special bill of guest artists. Sims brought with him three talented MCs: the Michigan-based One Be Lo, newly minted Minneapolitan Astronautalis, and Brother Ali.
One Be Lo, formerly one-half of the celebrated hip hop duo Binary Star and, for the last decade, a very successful and well-respected solo artist, started the night off. He delivered a strong set of high-concept rhymes with the smooth delivery and confidence of the veteran MC he is, riling up the crowd that was eager to follow his beats--a feat in a night that's dedicated to Minneapolis pride.
And then there was Astronautalis. The Jacksonville, Florida transplant is always quick to reiterate his love for his new home, an attitude that would surely help win him fans--that is, if he needed help winning any. Astronautalis' approach is relentlessly aggressive and highly passionate; he delivers elaborate, allegorical lyrics with a boulder-heavy voice that erupts out of him. Anyone new to this dynamic rapper is ultimately an ardent fan by the end of a performance; it would be like that even without Astronautalis' trademark freestyle session, which he weaves into any set with ease. Last night, the crowd demanded a rap on topics that included Herman Cain, beluga whales, chex mix, and Iowa and its succulence, among other things.
Photos by Nick Wosika One Be Lo
Brother Ali delivered a set of songs he loved, lending his straightforward style to scenes that are grounded in the personal. Ali was the least like his fellow rappers last night, but no less magnetic--his talent for setting the scene often forgoes convoluted rhyme schemes, and Ali is a stronger artist for it.
Photos by Nick Wosika Astronautalis
All this in a lead up to the evening's curator. Sims took the stage, all smiles, excited to be there. He burned into a fast-paced set, busting out with the razor-edged ferocity he's gained a name for, with a clear voice and a penchant for bringing attention to the hypocrisy of a world gone mad--much of which Bad Time Zoo was focused on. It's a testament to Sims' artistic growth, as his lyrics challenge listeners to branch out for a big-picture view. This is perhaps most evident on songs like "Future Shock," where Sims discusses the "man-made mountain" of self-created emptiness set to the expert beats of Lazerbeak, with Paper Tiger and Plain Ole Bill lending their talents for a sound that marches past pugnacity. On the other hand, one of the best moments of the evening came in Sims' introduction of "Hey You."
Photos by Nick Wosika Brother Ali
"I want to dedicate this song to anyone who's doing something that they love," he announced breathlessly. "That they be totally engrossed in it, because that shit goes by real fast."
The sets last night came in quick succession, with little intermission. Best that way; it would be unlike any of the artists to give their audience a chance to breathe. The beauty of Sims' cast of contributors is that each challenges the listener to keep up the pace in the imagery they cast and issues they tackle--a task that fans are all too ready to meet head on, as evidenced in the demands for an encore from Sims (downright rowdy).
It's not hard to believe the dedication of Doomtree fans, especially when the collective perpetuates a close togetherness, a sort of all-for-one-and-one-for-all bond that is wholeheartedly shared with audiences.
"You are our people, we are your people," declared Sims at the end of his set. "Thank you for being here!"
One night down, six to go. One whole fucking week indeed.
Lazerbeak Photos by Nick Wosika